Panel Paper: Using Teacher Value-Added Estimates to Test the Relationship Between Collective Bargaining Agreements and the “Teacher Quality Gap”

Friday, November 7, 2014 : 2:10 PM
Galisteo (Convention Center)

*Names in bold indicate Presenter

Li Feng, Texas State University, Lora Cohen-Vogel, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and La'Tara Osborne-Lampkin, Florida State University
Recently, policy makers in New Jersey and in school systems in Los Angeles and New York have moved to eliminate transfer and seniority provisions in collective bargaining agreements (CBAs) between teacher unions and school districts as a way to address inequitable access to quality teachers (see also Vergara v. California). They argue that seniority preference rules exacerbate the “teacher quality gap” by allowing experienced teachers to transfer (Ballou, 2000b; Hess & West, 2006). Overwhelmingly, teachers choose not to teach in schools with poor, minority, and low-performing students and seek transfers to schools with higher income and higher performing students (e.g., Cohen-Vogel & Osborne-Lampkin, 2007; Esch et al., 2005; Hanushek, Kain, & Rivkin, 2004; Feng, 2009, 2010, 2011).

But, results from a recent statewide study in Florida find little evidence to suggest that transfer and seniority provisions in CBAs worsen the teacher quality gap between more and less disadvantaged schools. In fact, compared with districts with less determinative transfer and leave rules, districts with more determinative provisions appear to have smaller gaps in teachers’ experience and certification between schools with higher and lower percentages of Hispanic students (Cohen-Vogel, Feng, & Osborne-Lampkin, 2013). These results are consistent with those of Koski and Horng (2007), who looked closely at the intradistrict distribution of teacher quality in California.

Recently, a working paper from the Center on Reinventing Public Education reached a similar conclusion. Taking advantage of a policy change in an urban Midwestern district, Gross, DeArmond & Goldhaber (2010) used an interrupted time-series design to look at what happens when a district replaces a system of seniority-based hiring preferences with one based on “mutual consent.”  The elimination of seniority preferences in the district, according to the authors, “did nothing to change the distribution of [teacher] experience in disadvantaged schools” (p. 19).

This conference paper, however, is the first to ask whether transfer and seniority rules in CBAs exacerbate the teacher quality gap as measured by more direct output measures of teacher effectiveness. Specifically, we use value-added achievement scores instead of input measures such as certification status, experience, and college aptitude tests to specify the outcome variable. To calculate teacher value-added estimates, we use the Florida Education Data Warehouse (FLEDW), an integrated longitudinal database on public school teachers in 1999/2000-2004/05. Teacher effectiveness measures will be obtained from several state-of-art Dynamic Ordinary Least Square(DOLS) student value-added achievement models.(Guarino, Reckase, & Wooldridge, 2012; Harris & Sass, 2011)  These data were combined with coded data from CBAs from the population of 66 unionized school districts in Florida. Following Moe (2005), Koski and Horng (2007), and Cohen-Vogel, Feng & Osborne-Lampkin (2013), our main analysis model will present results based on district fixed-effects and Hierarchical Linear Model(HLM) model.

Preliminary results suggest that the teacher quality gap between more and less advantaged schools, even when measured more directly with value-added estimates, is not wider in districts where seniority guides transfer decisions. In our discussion, we describe the implications for policy and future research.